This is where it all started for me – I was born in Liverpool. I lived there only five or six years but it must have a hold on me still, as it has a cameo role in two of my books.
This extract from A Greater World features Michael Winterbourne arriving in Liverpool in search of a berth on a ship.
He liked the feel of Liverpool. It was a place full of life and full of people. The streets were packed with double decker trams and smart new automobiles, as well as horses and carts. Everyone appeared cheerful and despite the coal smoke that had turned its handsome Victorian buildings as black as the back of a grate, it seemed an optimistic, bright sort of place. The people rushing by were a real mixture – he could tell that from their hats: men in bowlers, cloth caps, naval uniform caps, boaters and fedoras, women in brimmed hats, cloches, the poorer ones in head scarves, and nuns under dark peaked veils. He pulled his own cap low on his brow and pushed his way through the crowds thronging the pavement to look at the display windows of Blacklers. He’d never been in a department store before and for a moment was tempted to go in and look around. Then he remembered there was no point; he no longer had Minnie or his mother to treat to some colourful ribbon or a pair of gloves.
The smoke-blackened side walls of the buildings were covered from the roof line to the pavement with posters, advertising everything from the latest speaker at the Picton Hall to Veno’s cough mixture, Reliance bicycles and the timetable for the Birkenhead ferries. It was so different from the Dale. Part of him was tempted to linger longer in this city and see what it had to offer him. He began to wonder if a short trip here might open Minnie’s eyes to new possibilities, but he pushed the thought from his mind. He had to forget the past and forget her. He needed to get himself somewhere far away where there was no chance of turning back.
(From A Greater World)